Scale vs Balance: The Difference Between a Scale and a Balance

By Escali in Back of House

Scales and balances are both weighing machines. However, the difference between scales and balances is that a weighing scale measures weight relevant to the force of gravity while a balance is used to compare the mass of two different objects.

Although they are utilized for similar purposes, understanding how they produce results reveals the differences in scales vs. balances.

Many people confuse “scale” and “balance” to mean the same thing, making it difficult to determine precisely what is measured using scales and balances.

Let’s look at how balance vs. scales differ and what they signify, how they’re used, and which weighing equipment is best for you.

Scale vs Balance

Balance vs. Scale, What’s the Difference?

There are technical and practical differences between a scale and balance, and this includes what is being measured and the applications for which they are used.

Weighing scales are typically used to determine the weight of ingredients in the food, health, industrial, and commercial industries and track personal health in gyms or at home. On the other hand, balances are more typically used for scientific purposes in laboratories.

This section will go over the fundamental differences and the many types of balances and scales available.

What is a balance used for?

Many have asked the question, “What does a balance measure?” To put it simply, balances are used to measure the mass of an object. Precision balance and analytical balance are the most common types of balances. These do the following:

  • Measures mass in kilograms.
  • Deliver consistent, precise, and accurate results.
  • Serve as an essential tool in laboratories and science experiments.

What is a scale used for? 

Scales are used to measure the weight of an object. Common types of scales include mechanical and digital scales.

  • They measure weight in newtons.
  • Are essential tools in commercial kitchens and health gyms.
  • Keep track of health and wellness goals.

What to Consider when Purchasing a Balance or Scale

Choosing between a digital scale vs. balance is primarily determined by the industry you work in or how you want to utilize the device.

Compact balances are considered entry-level weighing devices which handle mostly small weighing tasks. Examples include portioning at food service establishments, weighing small animals, or measuring compounds in chemistry classes. Compact balances are perfect for use in school science experiments and weighing out medicine in a pharmacy.

On the other hand, a scale is more commonly used in diet and health to measure ingredients or keep track of health goals. In addition, they are used in retail, inventory, food, warehouse, and laboratory applications.

Scales are also used to weigh items in industrial warehouses where the scale would be subject to daily heavy use. In fact, scales are built to withstand considerable weights. So they have typical usage in shipping, loading dock, trucking, logistical, and supply chains.

Balances give very accurate weight measurements

How a Balance Scale Works

So, what does a balance scale measure? A balance scale is used to measure what no other scale can, the amount of mass in an object. A balance measures mass by comparing an unknown mass to a known mass. Balance scales measure mass, whereas weighing scales use newtons.

In the past, two mass objects would sit on opposite sides of a beam, and the beam was then precariously situated on a pivot arm or fulcrum. When the two objects balanced at the same level, they had equilibrium.

In modern weighing instruments, balances use a force commonly known as ‘weighing by difference.’ This restoration mechanism creates a force to balance out the force exerted by the unknown mass. The result of a balance reading is unaffected by the effects of gravity.

There are four main types of balances. These include:

  1. Analytical balance
  2. Micro and semi-micro balance
  3. Top-loading and high precision balance
  4. Triple-beam balance

Pros and Cons of a Balance

Pros of a balance:

  • Readings are extremely accurate
  • Balances can weigh out the smallest measurement
  • Unaffected by the gravitational pull

Cons of a balance:

  • Unable to measure heavy objects (Generally only calculate up to 1,000 grams)
  • Less durable and cannot be used in factory settings
  • Potentially complicated procedure if you’re unfamiliar with how a balance works
Weigh yourself with Escali’s Slim Glass Body Scale

How a Weighing Scale Works

The difference between a scale and a balance is that almost all scales rely on devices called load cells to measure how much an object weighs. When weight is applied to a scale, the load cell bends slightly, causing an electrical signal running through the load cell to shift.

This analog signal change is due to the amount of electrical resistance the bending causes to a small device inside the load cell called a strain gauge. An electronic device then reads the load cell’s analog signal change and turns it into a digital weight value.

There are three main types of scales. These include:

  1. Digital scales
  2. Dial scales
  3. Analog scales

Pros and Cons of a Scale

Pros of a scale:

  • Some scales have extra features such as BMI and fat percentage
  • Can weigh large amounts
  • Durable with heavier loads

Cons of a scale:

  • Require battery changing or some sort of electrical power
  • They can’t read small amounts compared to a balance
  • A scale can present inaccurate readings

Which One is Best for Everyday Personal Use?

When deciding between scales and balances, it’s essential to understand the key difference between scales and balances and consider which one is best for its intended purpose.

Weighing scales are widely used in both domestic and commercial settings. With a scale, you can weigh culinary ingredients, monitor personal health goals, check weighing items in transportation, and take stock easily with a scale.

Whereas a balance offers far more sophisticated designs and advanced features. This weighing device is essential in scientific research, universities, and medical facilities. A balance provides precise and accurate mass measurements in professional, educational, and commercial settings.

Escali carries a wide variety of scales

Discover the Perfect Scale for You from Escali

The process of choosing the right equipment is entirely up to you. Scales are, for the most part, the more commonly used option. Go with a scale if you’re looking for something more affordable and durable for those heavier objects.

On the other hand, Balances are used more within the scientific and medical fields, so if you’re looking for something to measure smaller masses accurately, a balance is a way to go.

Have a look at our wide range of products and find the one that best suits you!

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